Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Non-Disney Princesses II

{Read the original Non-Disney Princesses? article here.}

Remember the "good old days" of franchise-launched fantasy cartoons centered on toys, such as My Little Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Lady Lovely Locks, and Rainbow Brite?  (Children of the 80's, you know what I mean.)  Some are getting modern-day makeovers, but there are also some new kids on the block.  Out of curiosity, I clicked on a mini-series called Ever After High on Netflix, and it just goes to show that fairy tales will never, ever get old . . . or lose their potential for advertising!

From left to right: Briar Beauty, Apple White, Raven Queen, and Madeline (Maddie) Hatter

Ever After High is like Clueless meets Ponyville: where the children of famous fairy tale characters dress like themed lolitas and talk in insufferable puns while gushing about shoes, secret parties, and the dating scene.  It's where Hogwarts gets a run for its money with adult authority figures such as Headmaster Grimm, Baba Yaga, and Professor Rumplestiltskin.  It's also where they're expected to fulfill their pre-written destinies by following in their parents' footsteps.  Enter the main series conflict.
Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends
It's interesting to see what types of fairy tale trends take hold in this Barbie-esque multiverse.  There is the super-sugary blonde goody-goody befriending the antagonist-presented-as-protagonist misfit (Wicked); crossover characters from literary fantasies, such as Alice in Wonderland and Robin Hood (Once); and the forbidden romance between Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf (every supernatural romance ever).

Something else I found interesting was the choice to make Apple White, Snow White's daughter, a blonde.  Though this was probably a purely aesthetic choice to make her contrast the daughter of the wicked queen, Raven Queen.

Will he rescue Snow White or Red Riding Hood?

There are some clearly problematic things that naturally arise when combining fairy tales that were not addressed in the series.  Such as, in which story does Hunter Huntsman belong?  Or is the Huntsman, his father, the archetypal character that plays one role in many stories.  If the princes Daring and Dexter Charming are the sons of King Charming, aren't they also the brothers of Cinderella's daughter, Ashlyn, and even Apple, making the pre-determined pairing of Apple and Daring incestuous?  If the Evil Queen is Snow White's stepmother, then Apple and Raven should be a generation apart, and Raven effectively Apple's aunt (Raven's mother is Apple's mother's stepmother).  How far back do the generations go, exactly?  Is there a line of hundreds of Goldilocks, or just the two, Goldie Locks and her daughter Blondie?

There's nothing of really deep, lasting substance here, but Ever After High can't help but to stumble upon the roots of what haunts in fairy tales; too bad it doesn't care to water them and see how they grow.  Perhaps, the opportunity for delving is better humored in storybook format: Shannon Hale, acclaimed author of The Goose Girl, is authoring an Ever After High fiction series, with several books currently published.

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends